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New Fad — Shame- and Blame-Based Ad Campaigns

January 30, 2012

Originally posted on Fierce, Freethinking Fatties by Bronwen.

It turns out that Strong4Life’s shame and blame based ad campaign isn’t alone.

Today, while reading news on the internet, my husband found a story about an ad campaign in New York. This one targets adults, which makes it only marginally better than the one in Georgia that targets children.  However, this one is just as skeevy.It seems that the City of New York Department of Health had posters connecting portion sizes and diabetes. In the top of the poster, a man is posed sitting on a stool, huddled over with a defiant look on his face. The photo is in black and white with the grey background we’ve come to love in the Strong4Life’s campaign. On the bottom, the same man in the same pose missing his right leg just at the knee, and crutches are leaning on the grey wall behind him. In front, in color, are three fast food drink cups from small to large with the caption “Portions have grown. So has Type 2 Diabetes which can lead to amputations.”

Now, part of the problem with this ad campaign is that, well, just like with the Strong4Life campaign, the people who thought this was a good idea didn’t care if they lied.

First, the man in the picture did NOT have an amputation, the image was digitally altered to take off his leg at the knee. Second, they don’t know if the man actually, you know, has diabetes. Third, the photo company they got the man’s photo from doesn’t even know the man’s name, according to the New York Times:

When city officials announced the campaign on Jan. 9, they did not let on that the man shown — whose photo came from a company that supplies stock images to advertising firms and others — was not an amputee and may not have had diabetes. The city did not identify the man, and efforts to reach the agency that supplied the photo were unsuccessful. The photographer who took the picture, Morten Smidt, said he did not know the man’s name.

“City officials said those advertisements were testimonials that showed real people and real consequences.”  Really?  “But they said that doing so was not always feasible.”  Oh wait, except when they can’t find anybody who had actually lost limbs from diabetes to participate in an ad campaign that shames them for being such a bad person and bringing this on themselves.

“Sometimes we use individuals who are suffering from the particular disease; other times we have to use actors,” said John Kelly, a health department spokesman. “We might stop using actors in our ads if the food industry stops using actors in theirs.”

Because hiring actors to sell food and fun is totes the same as buying the picture of a man you don’t even know the name of, digitally altering that photo, and lying about his health status to sell the idea of how bad you are for eating too much and not exercising enough.

Oh, yeah.  TOTALLY the same.


From → Blog Posts

One Comment
  1. Cat permalink

    Oh lord!

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